The second in a series of posts about how to adapt to teaching in other people’s spaces. For all of us pushing carts, lugging markers & chart paper, and scampering around the school to get to our classes.
I spent the summer coming up with all sorts of ideas for my English class.
- A shelfie bulletin board to celebrate independent reading!
- Using the whiteboard and/or chart paper to keep track of our movement through the writing process!
- Strategies, strategies, strategies!
It was going to be awesome.
I also had ideas from two of my summer teacher books, Deliberate Optimism and Peer Feedback in the Classroom about how to develop a classroom culture that was supportive, welcoming, and respectful. Both books put a lot of emphasis on sharing who you are as person to help make a connection with your students. And a lot of that connection building revolved around sharing who you are through bulletin boards and other displays. Both authors also considered agreements central to developing a safe and respectful classroom space. I agree, but where do they go when you don’t have walls of your own? Or even the same walls every class?
Figuring out the agreements was actually the easiest part. Kevin, my colleague in whose classroom I teach 2/3 of my English classes, offered me some wall space. Once my class and I had created agreements, we posted them there. Then I snapped a photo with my phone so I could project the image onto the screen in the other classroom. This has its challenges. For example, the agreements can’t be visible at the same time as other classroom media. This makes simply pointing to the agreements to indicate to students that they need to check in with the agreements and their own actions or behavior difficult. The best solution I’ve come up with so far is to have the picture on a separate desktop on my laptop and swipe to it when necessary.
Here’s where technology becomes more helpful, at least in some sense. In general for this year I had envisioned interactive bulletin boards: Parking lots for questions, shelfie walls with information about independent reading progress, a wall where we track out movement through the writing process. I also knew exactly how each board would connect to the idea of building relationships and creating the kind of classroom environment I wanted. Knowing that I’d be in someone else’s space, I had planned to rotate them as necessary. My saving grace: Padlet and my school’s LMS.
I’ve gone Padlet crazy in the past month and a half. Padlet is, essentially, a digital wall or bulletin board where you can post ideas, files, and work collaboratively. I’ve used it many times before. I’ve created word sorts, used it for collaborative planning before shared writing, and, in a non-school use, to plan a trip to San Francisco. It seemed like the perfect tool for an interactive bulletin board. Kids could create posts to share information, they could comment on each other’s work (and we could work on digital citizenship!). We’re tracking independent reading and we’re tracking writing. Embedding the media into our LMS allows me to have it visible to students, and allows me to easily give feedback through rubrics, in addition to the comments I make on individual posts.
So far the kids are engaged, and rather than being a substitution for a traditional bulletin board, which is what I was initially looking for, it is an the tech is an augmentation of the interactive bulletin board. I’m definitely more engaged than I would be with a traditional interactive bulletin board. I’ve even created one for Romeo & Juliet (our next unit) where students can make connections between characters to help them understand who is who (something that’s been an issue for kids every time I’ve taught the text).
This is the one I still haven’t figure out. Anchor charts should be up on the wall so they can be referred to frequently. We come back to them and review them. Students can look at them while doing work. I have a few ideas. Perhaps ThingLink? I know I can embed them in my LMS, but will they be as visible when the students need them?
Any ideas? How do you deal with bulletin boards and anchor charts when you’re working in other people’s classrooms?